Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Author Interview: Gini Koch

Please help me welcome one of my favorite authors, Gini Koch author of Touched by an Alien  and the soon to be released Alien Tango  (12/7/10) and Alien In The Family. (4/11/11)Her books will have you laughing out loud, her heroes are book boyfriend material, and Kitty is one tough heroine that you can't help but love.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the Kitty Katt Series?
Sure! It’s the best series in the world, cheap at twice the price! (Hey, you can NOT blame a girl for trying!)

The Alien series follows Katherine “Kitty” Katt, the world’s best accidental badass, as she discovers first that the Roswell rumors are true -- with a twist -- and then not only learns that there are both good and bad aliens and lots of life on other planets, but gets involved in the fight to protect this planet. As the series goes on, there’s more than just parasitic aliens to deal with, as well as more secrets and conspiracies to discover and disrupt.

2. The hero in your books is Jeff Martini. Whenever I see his name, I always think of the drink-is he named after it and how did you come up with such unique character names?
As with everything else in the book, the characters told me. I didn’t know their names until they told them to me, right where they tell them to the reader.

Yes, including Kitty’s name. To the point where I turned away from the computer and said, “Kitty Katt? Really? Kitty Katt?” To which the character replied, “My parents have a sense of humor. Shut up and keep writing.”

It’s a party in my mind, basically, but it works for me.

3. Your heroine, Kitty attacks her first Alien with a pen. I thought that was so inventive, and it made me laugh out loud-what made you decide to have Kitty use such an ordinary object?
*Cough* It’s what Kitty told me she used. This book, the whole series, really, was very organic for me to write. I pretty much channeled what the characters said happened and put it down on paper.

I looked at it this way -- most of us aren’t equipped to handle a real emergency. So, what does a “regular” girl have in her purse? A whole lot of crap, really. But some of that crap can be altered to use effectively as a weapon or for defense.

In my personal case, my wallet is stuffed beyond bursting and it’s heavy as lead. If I need a blunt instrument and my car club isn’t available, someone’s gonna be whacked by that wallet. In Kitty’s case, she hit on the most sensible thing she had -- a heavy, pointed, Mont Blanc pen. Those puppies carry some real weight, and if I had one (which I don’t, ‘cause they also carry some real price tags) I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a weapon if I had to.

Basically, we bring the crazy here, but we make it work, and look good doing it, too.

4. Do you have a favorite character? 
Oh, I love all my creations. It’s hard to pick one over the others. Overall, probably the characters who were so loud in my mind that they started me writing (no one in the Alien series, btw).

If forced at gunpoint to pick my fave Alien series character, probably Kitty, simply because she’s the heroine and I love her, including what she does and doesn’t pay attention to. Also she shoved her voice into what was supposed to be a dark short story and turned it into something quite different…and quite a lot more fun, honestly.

I also love the villains. The villains coming in the next books are quite delicious, from a villainous standpoint.

5. You can’t give us a teeny tiny clue about the upcoming villain?

Well…there are villains, plural. And…they’re not what you’d expect. *smiles brightly* 
Oh. You want a SPOILER. I see. Huh. Lemme ponder…how’s this?

“I just think like psychos, I guess.” What a great skill. No wonder Martini’s mother wasn’t thrilled.
“Why were they willing to die?” Martini asked.
“Taft seems to have them convinced that they’re immune to dying.” Kevin shook his head. “They were all positive the bomb wouldn’t have killed any of them.”
“Just them or everyone?”
Kevin shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“Let’s go talk to the weasel.”
We went to where Shannon was being held. I got up close. “What do you want?” he asked, as he eyed Martini nervously. There were still red fingerprint marks on his throat.
“I want to know why you were willing to die for this cause.” He shook his head, so I grabbed his chin and forced him to look at me. “I’ll let him take out all his frustrations on you,” I jerked my head towards Martini. “And, believe me, he has a lot of them right now.”
Shannon looked frightened but still resistant. “What’s in it for me?”
“Not dying,” Martini snarled.
“We don’t need you, Shannon. We have the head of your chapter. She has the real info. The best you’re going to get is a reduced sentence if you help us. If you don’t…well, I know what someone your size, who also happens to lack teeth, has to look forward to in prison.”
Shannon gulped. “Okay. It’ll help me stay out of jail?” I nodded. After all, it might. “Taft told us all about your psychic and telekinetic abilities.”
“Come again?” What did these people think we were, the X-Men?
“We were going to blow up the plane to prove you were here on Earth. Everyone knows you’re invulnerable. We also know you can hold things together with your minds. If several of you were on the plane and part of it blew up, you’d all do your psychic thing and save the plane. Then we’d have the proof and you couldn’t deny it.”
I let go of Shannon’s jaw. “And, at no time did you ask yourself if this was, say, true?” They did think we were the X-Men. Wow.
“Well, aliens exist. I mean, you’re here.” He had a point, but I was going to take it away from him.
“No, they don’t. We’re human undercover operatives for an anti-terrorism branch of the Federal government. We’ve targeted your little Club Fifty-One because it’s encouraging terrorist behavior.”
Shannon shook his head. “I don’t believe you. No one in Club Fifty-One will ever believe that. We know you’re here, and we know you’re evil and need to be wiped off the face of the Earth.”

That’s all you get. Heh. If your readers want more, they’ll have to hit my website, where the first chapter of Alien Tango is up at my Deathless Prose page. ‘Cause we’re all about the anticipation on Team Gini. And then, of course, they’ll need to pick up Alien Tango, available Dec. 7th, 2010 (if not, as we learned for Touched by an Alien, before).

5.  As an author, do you have a voice in what goes on the cover of your books or what artist is used?
No, not really. I was consulted and asked to give mock-ups for the Touched by an Alien cover -- which is incredibly rare, btw, but because I have an extensive marketing background, they gave me that level of input -- but then my editor gently mentioned that the covers had to appeal to all potential readers and she assigned the covers to someone who knew what he was doing. Truth be told, unless you’re an artist who also writes (and they’re out there; my crit partner’s one, for example), you don’t really know how to make a good cover, one that really expresses your book’s heart and soul.

I basically won the lottery in terms of my cover artist. Daniel Dos Santos is a genius (in my TOTALLY unbiased opinion) and he’s captured the essence of each book in one picture. There’s no way I, personally, could ever do that. I couldn’t even tell you what to put in that would do it, but he hits it out of the park, every single time. In the cases of my books, with Dan as my artist, the covers are telling you exactly what you’re going to get.

And, yes, Alien Tango -- it’s all about the gators, baby! And my editor made sure that Dan had a gator represented on the cover, though from what he’s said, I think it would have been there no matter what, ‘cause he’s just that good.

6. Have you been surprised at all the alien love you've gotten with the books?
Honestly? Yes. I love my books, and since my agent, editor and publisher seem to love them, too, it’s not like I expected to go splat when Touched by an Alien came out. But I was shocked (hugely, pleasantly, jump up and down shocked) to get fan letters, to get emails from people telling me how much they loved the book and the characters, to get all the love. To have fans.

I LOVE my fans. I think I have the best, most wonderful, fun and funny fans out there. And it’s always a thrill to me when a new reader joins the Alien Collective and adds in their personal form of cool and funky to the mix. ‘Cause all my fans are both cool AND funky, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How did the name Alien Collective come about?

I’m racking my brain…it wasn’t THAT long ago…LOL…I think it just sort of came to me. I was trying to think of what to call everyone. Per my crit partner (who, yes, I called to ask, “Um, do you remember how we came up with this?” LOL), I was trying to come up with a cute thing to call my fans, tossed Alien Collective out, and the name stuck. Then we designed logo choices and let the Collective vote on what their badge would look like. Ah…good times, good times…

7.  I can't thank you and a few other people on getting me hooked on Castle. Are there any other must see tv shows or movies that you encourage people to watch?
I just have to say -- took you long enough! LOL

I am so never going to live down my hesitation not to watch Castle, am I?

Never. Never ever. Never in a million years ever. Well…IF the show jumps the shark, possibly. But probably not even then.

BUT, on to you actual question…

Well, I like a lot of shows, but don’t have that many “must see” shows. Castle is my #1, but I also love Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs (yes, I’m a USA girl, can you tell? LOL), and while I love NCIS, I tend to catch it on repeats, simply because it starts at a weird time here (7pm) for first run and I’m usually not “ready” to watch TV at that hour. I’ll tune into NCIS: Los Angeles once in a while, pretty much for LL Cool J (and why, why, WHY have we not had the “Sam Shower Scene” everyone’s truly been waiting for?), and I’ll catch others shows on a stumbling into them way. I’d be hooked on Dancing with the Stars, but the hubs can only take the few minutes of it between the end of Monday Night Football and the start of Castle, so I make do with that. I own all of Firefly, and all seasons of Buffy and Angel on DVD.

I also love watching football, Monday Night Football in particular, though I also love the other games. The hubs is hugely into baseball, so that’s on a lot. And we both like hockey, though hockey I really prefer to see live (because they tend to not televise the fights…I mean, what’s up with THAT?).

For movies I have a lot wider range, though I tend to prefer comedies (but not the Dumb and Dumber kind), action movies -- I freely admit that I think Michael Bay is da BOMB -- science fiction, fantasy, and animated movies. I like romantic comedies somewhat, I need to only see one “meaningful” movie a decade, and I won’t watch horror movies first run, ever, and slasher/Saw-type movies never.

I don’t want regular horror movies because I believe them. I will only watch horror movies about a decade after they were first run, and then only if an actor I love is in them -- ergo, I own Phantoms which stars Ben Affleck and Liev Shreiber, and Demon Knight which stars Billy Zane, and we have all the Alien movies, but the only one I’ll ever watch again is Aliens because Michael Biehn was amazingly hot and James Cameron is ALSO da BOMB of directors.

In live action movies and most visual entertainment, my main requirement is simple: Good looking leading men. Based on my scale, Interview with the Vampire was the best movie ever made, and Ghandi was merely okay, though it did fulfill my meaningful movie of that decade role, but it’s nothing I need to own or ever watch again.

I am a HUGE Disney girl. I love animation and always have. It breaks my heart that we may be seeing the end of hand-drawn animation, even though Pixar has never made a bad movie. But there’s something so beautiful in hand drawn animation. And I adore animated movies. Lady and the Tramp is still probably my all-time fave movie, ever. Yes, even over Dogma.

I could really go off on an animation tangent here, so I’m gonna stop. But, you know, if there are other animation geeks/lovers out there, that’s what the comments section is for. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

8. I'm sure that you get this a lot, but what's your favorite Sci Fi movie/book?
I do get this question a lot. And I can’t even come up with what I tend to answer for fave book right now, mostly because my fave book falls under fantasy, not SF (Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), and right after that are the Complete Sherlock Holmes and the complete works of O. Henry. The hubs and I have a huge collection of science fiction, but all I can come up with as a favorite is anything by Robert Silverberg and the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. I’m sure I’ll walk by the books later and hear them scream at me, “But you didn’t mention ME and you LOVE me!” but them’s the breaks.

Movies are easier. In no particular order, these would be my faves that would also fall under science fiction:

Men in Black
Galaxy Quest
Star Trek (the new one, with that hottie, Chris Pine as Captain Kirk)

I have a lot more faves, but they’d either be comedies (shocker), animated (shocker again), or fantasy (Dogma, Big Trouble in Little China, Mystery Men, and Mortal Kombat, for example, fall under the fantasy umbrella). I’m sure I’m forgetting more SF fave movies, here, too, but that’s part of the thrill of doing and reading interviews -- what WILL the interviewee manage to remember?

I also love comics and many movie adaptations of comics, but not all. Watchmen and the Spirit were examples of how to do it wrong. I’m looking forward to RED because I think it’s going to be the example of how to do it right. The Blade Trilogy rocked, as did the Hellboy movies. Again, I’m stopping now before we get into all the Marvel and DC movies (Iron Man TOTALLY better than the Dark Knight Returns). As with animation, I could go on at great length. Oh, but to combine the two: The Incredibles -- best superhero movie ever? I say possibly yes! Discuss.

9.  Are you a coffee or tea person? Which is your favorite way to drink it?
I like both, and Coca-Cola and other soft drinks. I drink coffee like they do in New Orleans, about 50% milk or half and half (I prefer half and half) to 50% coffee (though it’s only perfectly made when I can get it IN New Orleans). I drink tea with milk and sugar, or just honey if it’s a non-milk tea. I can’t drink coffee, hot or cold, without some kind of milk substance, but I drink iced tea without sugar. 

10. I can’t believe I forgot to put soda (or pop as we call it in Ohio) as a drink choice!  I’m a huge Coca Cola fan. Do you like pure of flavored?

I like regular Coke and Cherry Coke. I haven’t tried Vanilla Coke, mostly because I don’t like cream soda and that has vanilla in it. However, the best drink IN THE WORLD is the Mexican Coke, what I call Crack Coke, because it’s in glass bottles and has real sugar in it.

I grew up calling it pop, btw. Not sure if that was a SoCal thing or merely my family’s thing.

11. Did you plan on having more then one book with Martini and Kitty?
Well, I finished writing Touched by an Alien and rolled right into Alien Tango. Finished that and rolled right into Alien in the Family. Finished that and rolled right into Alien Proliferation. And so on. So, yeah, absolutely. But in the world of publishing, your first book had better be able to stand on its own, so I ensured that it could.

Frankly, you should be able to pick up any of the Alien books (as they become available) and read it without having read the others, and also feel like the ending was satisfying. And readers who’ve read the whole series should be able to enjoy the characters’ growth and life paths book to book. That’s my goal, at any rate.

12. Where can we find you on the web?
Oh, all over!
My website is probably the best spot: http://www.ginikoch.com
My blog is attached to my website: http://ginikoch.blogspot.com/
I love Twitter, so follow me there: @GiniKoch
I’m also on Facebook: facebook.com/Gini.Koch
You can also find older interviews, reviews, and upcoming appearances by checking my page at BookTour.com: http://www.booktour.com/author/28254
And, last but in no way least, email: gini@ginikoch.com
(Yes, accessibility is moi.)